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Building 10Micron mount models

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#551 EFT

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Posted 23 November 2020 - 08:43 PM

There is something to be said for secondary mirror focusers but I think that they are best suited for scopes utilizing spider veins rather than corrector plates.  As far as rigidity and stability goes, there should be no difference between a rear cell and secondary mirror focuser.  The issue is the movement of the primary and you lock that in place in either case.


Edited by EFT, 23 November 2020 - 10:18 PM.

 

#552 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 07:45 PM

I have a Litecrawler on my Edge but was told a front mounted focuser operating on the secondary mirror was preferable. 

The only reason to use a secondary focuser is if you have 1) back focus issues that the rear focuser is causing or 2) You can only afford a crayford focuser which slips with a heavy image train.

 

I'd imagine the litecrawler does not slip but I don't know about back focus issues.  If you are ok there, I'd stick with that over a secondary focuser.   Pain to deal with the cables and you have to be ok with diffraction spikes on your bright stars.


 

#553 airscottdenning

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 01:47 PM

I've been learning to use my new GM1000 HPS mount using MountWizzard 4 to build and analyze pointing models.

Both the hardware and software are wonderful, but apparently I have a persistent problem in DEC that I can't seem to diagnose.

My main imaging scope is a Borg 125 f/8 (1050 mm) with a huge Optec TCF-S3 focuser. Nice and rigid and mounted solidly. Weighs about 25 pounds so *well* within the mount's capabilities. Imager is a ZWO ASI 1600 MM Pro with an 8-filter EFW.

I can run smallish models (9 to 18 points) and get rms<10 arseconds pointing, and I've iterated those little models with polar alignment to get my polar error well below 1 arcminute.

Then I run a larger model (50 to 99 points) before doing long unguided exposures.

But every time I do a big model I get a lot of scatter in DEC (see attached error distribution from MountWizzard 4). Also I often but not always get elongated stars in DEC (annotated single 10 minute Ha exposure example attached).

This DEC scatter seems like it must be a mechanical problem.

The scope is balanced near-perfectly using the 10micron measurement routine.

I have carefully disassembled and reassembled the whole imaging train and everything seems solid as a rock. My focuser alone weighs 5 pounds and is a marvel of metallic stability. Everything else is screwed together ... no wiggly bits.

 

The mount is fastened with 6 x 3/8" bolts to an 8-inch diameter portable steel pier that's full of lead weights. The portable pier weighs over 150 pounds. It's sitting on a stone patio that was excavated 18-inches deep and is underlain by gravel, sand, and concrete. It's a very well-engineered foundation under the mount. When I model the mount I am more than 30 meters away in the house, so nobody is walking near the scope.

I found some potential cable snags and worked hard to eliminate them (though I dearly wish these premium mounts had internal 12v and USB3!).

Any suggestions of how to improve my 10Micron DEC performance?

Many thanks!
Scott

Attached Thumbnails

  • error.dist.jpg
  • 10min.Ha.jpeg

Edited by airscottdenning, 04 December 2020 - 02:08 PM.

 

#554 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 04:26 PM

Scott: one possible cause for flexure I saw referenced a few times is the compression of the felt inside the rings that keep the OTA. I don't know if that is applicable to you, but thought of mentioning it, just in case.


 

#555 airscottdenning

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 05:57 PM

Thanks Razvan. I hadn't thought of that. My felt is very thin but I guess we are talking about just tiny movements.

Scott: one possible cause for flexure I saw referenced a few times is the compression of the felt inside the rings that keep the OTA. I don't know if that is applicable to you, but thought of mentioning it, just in case.


 

#556 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 06:15 PM

Here's a thread on it: https://www.cloudyni...pe-rings-issue/ (and again, I don't know if that's the case, but it's instructive nonetheless, I had not thought of it either before stumbling over Tonk's experience).


 

#557 mccomiskey

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 07:07 PM

I have been an avid reader of this topic and the similar threads on the 10Micron forum for some time.  I am relatively new to this hobby (addiction?), and was hoping the more experienced 10Micron members, could help clarify a couple of things for me.

 

1. Should the Refraction data setting in the 10Micron handset be set to always update, or only when not tracking?  If the latter, why?  And as a practical matter, if I have set up a sequence of 20 x600" exposures, won't that mean that there is no refraction data updated for over 3 hours?  Does that mean, one should organize one's imaging sessions to periodically interrupt imaging in a way that turns tracking off in order to allow to the mount to update its refraction data?

 

2. Is the primary benefit of the refraction data in the initial construction of the model?  In the sense that it allows the mount computer to separate actual pointing error from refraction-induced error, creating a more accurate model?  Or does the mount computer make use of current refraction data during an imaging session in order to adjust how the model works to make pointing more accurate?

 

3. Finally, an unrelated question: assuming away field rotation issues (lets assume PA alignment is good enough for the FL/pixel size of the system that field rotation is invisible), if an accurate model is built (RMS of 7" or less), should a mount like the 10Micron with absolute encoders and dual axis tracking be able to make unguided images of substantial duration (say 15 minutes) with round stars?  I ask because with a 530FL scope and 9m pixels, a polar alignment error of 12" and a 70-point model with an RMS of 5.7", I am seeing some star elongation in 10 minute subs (eccentricities up to 0.9).  System is rigid, cables secured and connected to counterweight bar, etc.  I am sure this is user error (although a very long thread on the 10Micron forum discussing problems users are having with unguided tracking and elongated stars is mildly concerning), but I am having some trouble figuring out what that error is.  Would appreciate any wisdom (or just thoughts!).

 

Best,

 

Mark


Edited by mccomiskey, 04 December 2020 - 07:55 PM.

 

#558 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 07:33 PM

I'm just another user but will try to answer the first two questions.

 

For #1: I think "always update" is best, this ways the mount can follow the changes in temperature as they happen, which also means the adjustments are small. If you do them once in a while, they can be larger and definitely you don't want to do them in the middle of taking a long frame. Particularly if you want to take long exposures as you indicate in question #3. According to the manual, the refraction data is "filtered with a low-pass filter with 15 seconds of time constant to avoid jumps while tracking".

 

For #2: The effects of refraction depend on the altitude of the object in the sky. The purpose of using refraction data is for the mount to keep pointing to where the object appears in the skyas opposed to where we'd see it if Earth had no atmosphere. So it's not only for pointing but also for tracking throughout the night. 

 

HTH,

Razvan

 

1. Should the Refraction data setting in the 10Micron handset be set to always update, or only when not tracking?  If the latter, why?  And as a practical matter, if I have set up a sequence of 20 x600" exposures, won't that mean that there is no refraction data updated for over 3 hours?  Does that mean, one should organize one's imaging sessions to periodically interrupt imaging in a way that turns tracking off in order to allow to the mount to update its refraction data?

 

2. Is the primary benefit of the refraction data in the initial construction of the model?  In the sense that it allows the mount computer to separate actual pointing error from refraction-induced error, creating a more accurate model?  Or does the mount computer make use of current refraction data during an imaging session in order to adjust how the model works to make pointing more accurate?

 

3. Finally, an unrelated question: assuming away field rotation issues (lets assume PA alignment is good enough for the FL/pixel size of the system that field rotation is invisible), if an accurate model is built (RMS of 7" or less), should a mount like the 10Micron with absolute encoders and dual axis tracking be able to make unguided images of substantial duration (say 15 minutes) with round stars?  I ask because with a 530FL scope and 9m pixels, a polar alignment error of 12" and a 70-point model with an RMS of 5.7", I am seeing some star elongation in 10 minute subs (eccentricities up to 0.9).  System is rigid, cables secured and connected to counterweight bar, etc.  I am sure this is user error (although a very long thread on the 10Micron forum discussing problems users are having with unguided tracking and elongated stars is mildly concerning), but I am having some trouble figuring out what that error is.  Would appreciate any wisdom (or just thoughts!).

 

Best,

 

Mark


Edited by RazvanUnderStars, 04 December 2020 - 07:36 PM.

 

#559 mccomiskey

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:17 AM

If you're polar aligned correctly, and still get oval stars, check the symbols on your mount hand controller. There's a bug I discovered where after you turn on the mount, if you unpark the mount from external software, it puts the mount into custom tracking speed (a comet icon shown on the hand controller). So no matter how well aligned you are, you will get oval stars. All you need to do to correct this is go into tracking speed and select sidereal. 

 

Is this really the case?  Systematically, if I use Model Creator to build a model, it sets the mount to a custom tracking speed (i.e. the comet icon).  I have always assumed this custom tracking speed is part and parcel of the model.

 

So, if I understand correctly, the procedure would be to build a small model, do the polar alignment, build the larger model, and then switch away from the resulting custom tracking speed to the standard sideral tracking speed?


 

#560 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:32 AM

Also curious to hear. I polar align with SharpCap with the mount off and prior to building the model with MC. As I mentioned in the similar thread specific to ModelCreator, I had asked its author about the custom tracking rate and he said MC was not setting the rate, his hypothesis was that it was done by the mount controller (well, there's no other option either). What I also wonder is whether the custom speed is really different than the sidereal one.

 

That said, stars are round even with this custom rate but unlike Lead_Weight's case, I wasn't unparking it. 


 

#561 Tonk

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 03:58 AM

I would be truly suspicious of this switch to a custom tracking rate!

It is NOT used for tracking based off the model. That is done exclusively by DUAL tracking mode.

Go and look at the RA and DEC arc sec per minute rates on the handset under the custom tracking.


 

#562 mccomiskey

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:25 AM

I would be truly suspicious of this switch to a custom tracking rate!

It is NOT used for tracking based off the model. That is done exclusively by DUAL tracking mode.

Go and look at the RA and DEC arc sec per minute rates on the handset under the custom tracking.

Will do this evening, weather permitting, and report back.  I suspect I am betraying colossal ignorance with this question, but in the spirit of "if you don't ask you don't ask you don't learn", what should I be looking for?


 

#563 nathanm

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:49 PM

I don't have a 10micron mount but have been thinking about getting one.

 

I live in a cloudy place so I don't observe from home - it's always on the road - sometimes a different place every observing night, but usually 2-3 nights in the same place.

 

My question is whether the model building that is the topic of this thread would be prohibitive.   With a normal equatorial you must polar align and get guiding going (I use NINA and PHD2).   In principle this is quick to get going.  In practice I have to budget time for being an idiot and forgetting to connect a cable somewhere.  Start up on the first time at a new location always seems to involve some head scratching.

 

With 10micron you must polar align then build a model - or according to many posts here, do a small model, and then a larger model, which (based on the threads here) can be done in 20-30 min.    My guess is that that is the time it takes experienced, perhaps expert, users to do it.

 

But, having done this, you don't have to mess with PHD2 or guiding.

 

Do I have this right?   

 

What do you think about 10micron for the traveling scenario?   

 

It is obviously not a lightweight mount, so there is that!   But physically carrying the mount is probably doable.

 

One more question - is there a minimum focal length required for the OTA used for building the model?

 

I ask because I am getting ready to shoot the Geminids with a heavy (25-30 lbs) array of multiple cameras and lenses.  Heavy enough  that is it at the edge of what my current mounts can handle  (Rainbow 135 and Avalon M-zero).  The main imaging is thus done with a pretty wide angle.  While this is not the only way I shoot, it is an example of a scenario that would be nice to do with 10micron.   But I assume I would need to use a longer focal length guide scope for building the model.


 

#564 psandelle

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:14 PM

I don't have a 10micron mount but have been thinking about getting one.

 

I live in a cloudy place so I don't observe from home - it's always on the road - sometimes a different place every observing night, but usually 2-3 nights in the same place.

 

My question is whether the model building that is the topic of this thread would be prohibitive.   With a normal equatorial you must polar align and get guiding going (I use NINA and PHD2).   In principle this is quick to get going.  In practice I have to budget time for being an idiot and forgetting to connect a cable somewhere.  Start up on the first time at a new location always seems to involve some head scratching.

 

With 10micron you must polar align then build a model - or according to many posts here, do a small model, and then a larger model, which (based on the threads here) can be done in 20-30 min.    My guess is that that is the time it takes experienced, perhaps expert, users to do it.

 

But, having done this, you don't have to mess with PHD2 or guiding.

 

Do I have this right?   

 

What do you think about 10micron for the traveling scenario?   

 

It is obviously not a lightweight mount, so there is that!   But physically carrying the mount is probably doable.

 

One more question - is there a minimum focal length required for the OTA used for building the model?

 

I ask because I am getting ready to shoot the Geminids with a heavy (25-30 lbs) array of multiple cameras and lenses.  Heavy enough  that is it at the edge of what my current mounts can handle  (Rainbow 135 and Avalon M-zero).  The main imaging is thus done with a pretty wide angle.  While this is not the only way I shoot, it is an example of a scenario that would be nice to do with 10micron.   But I assume I would need to use a longer focal length guide scope for building the model.

I'm strictly mobile and whenever I have a 10Micron (have the new M-Zero with motorized polar align I'm testing), it's easy-peasy. Do my PA not long after sunset, then do a 45 point model, and then I sit and wait for astronomical twilight to end so I can shoot. Everything's done long before it's dark enough to really image, so, no problems (I also do flats at that time as well). It's portable enough (I consider this according NOT to setting it up, anything can be set up, but how easy it is to break down at 4am in the freezing cold where one wrong move ends up sending the mount head crashing to the ground).

Paul


 

#565 mccomiskey

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:23 PM

I'm strictly mobile and whenever I have a 10Micron (have the new M-Zero with motorized polar align I'm testing), it's easy-peasy. Do my PA not long after sunset, then do a 45 point model, and then I sit and wait for astronomical twilight to end so I can shoot. Everything's done long before it's dark enough to really image, so, no problems (I also do flats at that time as well). It's portable enough (I consider this according NOT to setting it up, anything can be set up, but how easy it is to break down at 4am in the freezing cold where one wrong move ends up sending the mount head crashing to the ground).

Paul


 

#566 mccomiskey

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:24 PM

I’m sorry, which 10Micron mount has a motorized polar align feature? I’ve fantasized about such a thing, but didn’t realize it actually existed?!
 

#567 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:32 PM

Nathan, like Paul, I'm also strictly mobile but the PA & model building takes less time than you'd think. I do the PA with SharpCap (not with the mount) during the twilight, pretty much once I can see Polaris with the eyes as the camera can detect the fainter stars. This is with the mount off and it that takes a few minutes only. I checked with 10Micron and they said any procedure is good, one doesn't have to follow theirs.

 

Then only build a model once, in the areas of the sky where I'll be imaging since it will be one or two objects per night. I haven't gone beyond 30 points (my scope's FL is 880mm and I image unguided), I'll try more but so far, so good. A camera will see enough stars during the twilight, so no imaging time is consumed.

 

Modeling is performed with the assistance of software (ModelCreator or MountWizzard) so apart from a few clicks, the process is automated and it takes the same amount of time for a beginner or an expert. 


 

#568 psandelle

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 02:04 PM

I’m sorry, which 10Micron mount has a motorized polar align feature? I’ve fantasized about such a thing, but didn’t realize it actually existed?!

The M-Zero has the motorized alt/az.

 

Paul


 

#569 mccomiskey

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 04:04 PM

Nathan, like Paul, I'm also strictly mobile but the PA & model building takes less time than you'd think. I do the PA with SharpCap (not with the mount) during the twilight, pretty much once I can see Polaris with the eyes as the camera can detect the fainter stars. This is with the mount off and it that takes a few minutes only. I checked with 10Micron and they said any procedure is good, one doesn't have to follow theirs.

 

Then only build a model once, in the areas of the sky where I'll be imaging since it will be one or two objects per night. I haven't gone beyond 30 points (my scope's FL is 880mm and I image unguided), I'll try more but so far, so good. A camera will see enough stars during the twilight, so no imaging time is consumed.

 

Modeling is performed with the assistance of software (ModelCreator or MountWizzard) so apart from a few clicks, the process is automated and it takes the same amount of time for a beginner or an expert. 

I would second this.  I am mobile-only also.  The mount is very easy to polar align.  Using ModelCreator or MountWizzard and a 12 point model takes less than 15 minutes, and then, literally, all you do is select Polar Align on the hand controller, slew to a star, and manually adjust the mount until that star is in the center of the cross hairs on your imaging program (usually takes less than 5 mins).  Polar alignment done.

 

Then, run MC/MW again with a larger number of points, and the mount is ready to use.


 

#570 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 04:23 PM

You can skip the first model altogether if you use SharpCap to do the PA. You still needs those few minutes to adjust alt/az, of course, but you can start directly with that step, see https://www.sharpcap...polar-alignment for the procedure. 

 

Clear skies,

Razvan


 

#571 mccomiskey

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 04:44 PM

You can skip the first model altogether if you use SharpCap to do the PA. You still needs those few minutes to adjust alt/az, of course, but you can start directly with that step, see https://www.sharpcap...polar-alignment for the procedure. 

 

Clear skies,

Razvan

Agreed, and the sharpcap routine is certainly great, if you are capable enough to align manually within the 5 degrees or so of the pole before starting.  But given the use case described above, won't the FoV be much larger than the 2.5 degree max that sharpcap wants?  I've never tried with a wide FoV...

 

Either way is very easy, and both are great.  Sharp Cap is very quick, but once you cross the Rubicon on building one model, building two is trivial....

 

The over all point would be that it is no more difficult to polar align the 10Micron than any other mount, I think.


 

#572 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 04:59 PM

I use a compass (with magnetic declination correction) so I can set up everything in day light within 1 degree of NCP. My camera's FOV is about 1.5deg x 1deg with FL=880mm. mccomiskey's will be larger (FL=530mm according to post #557). I'd expect it to work since I haven't encountered reports of people not able to do a PA because of a field too large but I don't know for sure. A possible solution if the FOV is too large: SharpCap also supports defining an ROI (region of interest), i.e. a crop, during capture; not sure if during the PA as well. 

 

At a second thought, it should be fine, since SharpCap's plate solving works several degrees around the NCP (I remember the author writing it's at least a degree more than what the documentation states).

 

But as you say, whatever works is fine and the PA is not that time consuming.


 

#573 Tonk

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 05:03 PM

Be aware that converging both PA and the model via multiple runs is superior to a single run. However convergence is usually reached in two to three runs and doing four or more is usually a waste of time as the RMS and PAE just now just meander about not getting any better.

A PAE of up to 1 to 2 arc minutes is acceptable when using dual tracking - you just wont notice - so dont go overboard trying for super tight PA.

RMS on the other hand will largely be down to how rigid your scope is - you will learn what value to aim for for a particular scope as it will be close to the value you can never improve upon. E,g.I expect to better 6" RMS for my 500mm F/7 APO but will get no better than 45" for my Corrected F/3.5 Newtonian. The model and dual tracking sorts out any repeatable flexure.


Edited by Tonk, 05 December 2020 - 05:10 PM.

 

#574 nathanm

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 05:17 PM

Thanks for the answers!   It is a little daunting seeing a 23 page thread on model making, so it is good to hear that it is not normally difficult.   

 

Here is a follow question.   Has anybody run the ASCOM conformance checker  https://www.ascom-st...ds/DevTools.htm  on the 10micron driver?

 

Here is why I ask.  For whatever reason, I found a ton of software and hardware bugs in the mounts I have used so far.   

 

The Avalon M-zero was unusable for the first three months I had it.  Then I found that much of the problem was due to the fact that its driver would not pass ASCOM conformance test.   Avalon, to their credit, did fix those bugs when I insisted, but it seemed strange to me that the would even release a product that wouldn't pass the test.  There was also a serious bug in the controller hardware.   

 

Now, my M-zero works well, but it was a frustrating several months.

 

I also use a Rainbow RST 135.   That also has very serious bug.  And, it turned out that the Rainbow driver also would not initially pass the ASCOM conformance test.   Rainbow is still tracking down the bug - the side-of-pier indication will sometimes flip for no reason - i.e. it acts as if a meridian flip occurred, but there was no flip.  This causes PHD2 to guide in the wrong direction.    Sure enough, the one error that the Rainbow driver gets in the ASCOM test relates to side-of-pier.  This does not happen every observing night, but when it happens it is of course frustrating when it does, particularly because I haven't found any way to diagnose that it occurred.

 

So, my Rainbow almost works, and hopefully will will fully work soon, again, after frustrating several months.

 

I thought that I was safe buying either of those two mounts because they are widely used and seem to have good reputations on the forum. 

 

Admittedly, my astrophotography so far has been a bit unusual - I have been making large mosaics with long programmed sequences of more than 100 positions in a night. (using NINA).   That is all within what the mounts should be capable of but is probably a weird usage pattern.

 

Yet the fact is that both of these manufactures had released drivers that would not pass the ASCOM conformance test.

 

10micron seems to have very enthusiastic users and a great quality reputation (which it ought to have for the price!).   

 

But before I embark on another journey doing remedial quality assurance the manufacturer should have done, I am a little gunshy.


 

#575 Tonk

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 06:01 PM

There are 2 ASCOM drivers available for the 10M. Per Frejvall did the first off his own bat - Per has passed away now so its no longer maintained but I still use it and it hasn't failed me in since I started using it 4 years ago. I have the 10Micron official  ASCOM driver in reserve for the day that an ASCOM platform version update finally breaks Per's . driver. My tests of the official driver so far show its fine.

How any company has avoided using a test suite thats given to them on a plate - is frankly bizzare. It tells me its likely a small or even one-person development effort by someone not used to unit testing and continuous integration testing and that they haven't fully read or understood the ASCOM developers guide lines.


 


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